“I think if you are a sexual predator, you should do your entire time. I’m not sure that sex offenders can be rehabilitated.”
Hughes was jailed for 10 years and nine months in 2014 on two counts of sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault. His victims were aged between 7 and 15 years old at the time.
It was Sarah’s testimony that sealed Hughes’ fate – and the Hey Dad...! actress has always been terrified of seeing him again in the outside world.
“I’m going to try and not let him affect my life, but [if he was out] I’d want to know where he is. What city is he in? Is he being monitored? Does he have an ankle bracelet? Am I going to be safe if I go home? I’d be paranoid,” Sarah explains.
“More than anything, I worry about the other girls. I know they are very apprehensive about him getting out one day and running into him on the street.”
But Sarah, now based in the US, won’t have to worry about bumping into her abuser while back home in Australia now his parole has been officially denied.
“I’m pretty happy. I won’t have to worry about him being out and I can still come to Australia, visit my friends and family and do work. And
I won’t have to deal with it for at least another year,” she says.
Last week, the NSW State Parole Authority said Hughes “presents as an unacceptable risk to community safety” during a private meeting.
Hughes had sought an International Prisoner Transfer based on his dual citizenship with Australia and the UK. But when he renounced his Australian citizenship and withdrew his ITP application, it meant if released, he would be deported to the UK, unsupervised.
As she waited for the outcome on March 12, Sarah thought about what it would be like to have Hughes free.
She wants him to serve the full decade behind bars – but also fears that upon his official release he won’t be monitored by the system.
“I’m torn. I think that yes, you should have to do your whole sentence. But on the other hand, if he is released on parole he will be monitored, and someone will be constantly checking up on him,” she says.
“Whereas if he did the whole 10 years, he’d be done with his time and he’d be released without being under watch.”
Those feelings only intensify with the fact Hughes has never admitted to his offences. Though found guilty, the convicted paedophile has always protested his innocence.
“He hasn’t admitted guilt ... he should stay in,” she says.
As Hughes languishes behind bars, Sarah has had six years to process her pain. She might never be completely free from the shadow of his heinous crimes, but the brave actress knows she did the right thing by speaking up.
“I thought there would be closure after the court case. There was a little bit, but not fully. I don’t think I’ll ever get full closure,” she says.
“I don’t dwell on it every day. Before #MeToo, it was awkward. But now, people say I am a pioneer. It’s much easier now. People recognise I’ve done stuff and helped people and changed things.”
“When I first came out with it, I felt like I was the anti-Christ. There are days where I think, I wish I hadn’t done it. And then there are other days I look at how far we have come and I am glad I did it.”
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